Rising Temperatures Mean Insects Carry Viruses to Wider Areas
Spring mosquitos have arrived in masses, carrying disease. In June 2012, Dallas recorded their first case of the West Nile virus,. By August 2012, there were nearly 400 cases of the disease. Nineteen people went on to die that year in Dallas and it since has been considered the worst West Nile outbreak in U.S history
Since the outbreak there have been many concerns surrounding the epidemic, which stills leaves many troubled. This past Monday, negotiators from over 190 countries met in Paris in hopes of creating a treaty that will help reduce greenhouse gases blamed for climate change.
Health departments through the U.S. have already been working to prepare for the insects. Officials say that they are well equipped in the event of a new disease outbreak. However, they do acknowledge the possibly of surprise.
Scientists are working on looking for infected insects across the Dallas area that could help offer an early warning about a possible disease risk. Scientists are doing so by setting up small traits that are baited with “stinkwater,” which replicates the odors of the fetid swamps. The traps are able to catch hundreds of live insects within a weeks time. If tests come back positive that they are mosquitos from any neighborhood with the disease, county officials unleash a fog of pesticides to kill any insects nearby.
Since 2012, Dallas has intensely monitored mosquitos and have been adamant about praying campaigns which has helped keep the disease in check. However, unfortunately mosquitos are not the only pests that thrive in warmer climates. Ticks and the “kissing bug” can also be a treat in warmer weather.
Ticks are notorious from spreading Lyme disease and well as Rocky Mountain spotter fever while the “kissing bug” is known for Chagas disease. According to Daniel R. Brooks, an evolutionary biologist and senior research fellow at the University of Nebraska’s Manter Laboratory of Parasitology, it’s unlikely that warmer climate will introduce any new disease threats. Climate change can sometimes even limit, rather than expand, the ranges of life spans of certain insects and the microbes they carry.